The Burnout. Part 2.
April 30th / May 1st, 2018
I work from home. To be more exact, I do not have a job besides acting. I stay at home, and every day I do my bit: search the sites, apply if anything comes along, do my self-tapes, go training, learn or read scripts, decide if I like projects/scripts and if I want to apply and hope for an audition. And it is hard. It is.
I do my stuff around the house, the garden, cook, wash, clean… you know the normal things. I create, I paint, I write, I translate, I read, I do a bit of gardening, I try to fill my time as well as I can. But it is hard. Because I am ambitious. I do not desire to just stay at home and do all these amazing things, to be honest. Who would not just love not to have kids, and just do whatever the f**k goes through their heads? But I am not rich, and many things come with the lack of money. My husband says it’s okay and he will handle it. And he does. But he works too much, too hard and I do not feel at ease. Much of my drive to further my career is motivated by this. And this is where it got out of control for me.
You know how humans are. They need a motivation and sometimes they can’t find all of it inside themselves, so they find extra on the outside. In their children, spouses or pets (you can’t let them become strays, abandoned and hungry, right?). It is good, up to a point. But when it becomes too much from the exterior it turns poisonous. If there is little to no progress, guilt appears, and guilt is a silent killer. It creeps on you.
If the motivation lies too much on your outside you may get to the point when you can’t look at yourself and be kind to you, for it is not your inner motivation anymore. You lost the point. You lost yourself in the process. Where did that desire come from? Inside you, yes? It was your dream, your passion. And you, no matter how critical, how ambitious, you on your own terms can see clearly the project, the progress and what is happening. But when lost outside of you, focused on others, you risk on starting to feel a pressure that should not be on your shoulders, for in the end everyone must do their bid (except children, when you have them you can’t follow dreams which do not provide for their proper raising). But as no children are involved, I can happily dare to follow my dreams and express my talents.
The problem is, in the last past 4 months I felt inadequate in many ways, not doing enough, not contributing. I always had a salary, I never really had to rely on my husband’s money. Until I came here. In the beginning, my only money were the ones I was making from the jobs as an extra. And not much of it either. Then a few paid projects, but nothing spectacular. If they were minimum wage plus expenses I was good!! Now, I don’t really do much extra work (unless FAA pacts that make it worth your time); agents don’t like it in general for it reduces an actor’s ability to be available at the last moment’s call but let’s say I would love to stop doing it.
The troubles started last December, when we rented the house, after months of scandals among the people sharing it, and now we are splitting 50/50 with some relatives of mine. Besides the fact that finally all the chaos is gone (we lived in one room and there were at least other 4 to 5 other people in the house; one kitchen; one bathroom…); and now we can feel at home with no worries, no locking the room, no noise while I try to learn and self-tape or anything else; the money pressure increased. And even if my husband did recently get a raise, the first few months were deadly. I hate borrowing money, I hate feeling in debt even if just a little and to someone who simply is my best friend and knows exactly what is going on, and would help me without a second thought! This altogether with a lot of spending to renovate (you do not want to know the state of the house after everyone left, and the amount of physical work put in it in a very short time as we tried to be ready by Christmas) and new stuff bought for the house (my relatives both work and sometimes have an issue remembering we only live on one salary!!) made me feel that I was falling behind.
My acting pretty much came to a halt, I only got one double role in a feature film in the 4 months since this year started, and this one was from a site I could not afford to pay for; but luckily the director accepted my direct email to him – thank God for there are still humans out there who understand!!!! And it’s paid. He just liked me, we met, I didn’t even audition; he met my husband; we met his partner and the team! It was brilliant! Can you imagine if he wouldn’t have bothered?
My mind maybe blocked me from giving it all in my self-tapes, or maybe it was just a mixture of events – not many advertised projects – and this definitely is not my doing; my agent practically non-existent (why do I even keep them it’s a mystery to me), the price of some sites where I might have had the chance to find something to apply to; the fact that I have 2 projects that are dreading for 2 years since I got the roles; 2 films that are crawling to be finished (well, one was finished this March and just now it’s starting the festivals tour). The fact that I met a producer obsessed with “beautiful women” and the bloody nudity in his film, and it ended for me right before the audition after hearing the phrase “we will see you in the bikini in the end”, said as a reply to me refusing to audition in underwear. All that just made me want to get the hell out of there, and I was so happy not to have gotten the part! Have you ever felt a weight lifting off your shoulder when not given a role? I would have said no anyhow.
But you know what? That made me feel inadequate again. I knew I shouldn’t have! I saw myself fat. I knew I am not skinny, or slim enough to shoot a fight scene in underwear. And it doesn’t even matter that it was a scene to be done probably because it is the way some people sell their films. I would have most likely said no, if after reading the script if I wouldn’t have felt it made sense in the story. But, this is not about my principles or preferences. By the way, the role I got and talked about above, with the Director who accepted my application via e-mail, involves a lot of nudity; but the Director does not give the same feel as that producer I met and, in the script makes perfect sense.
As I was saying, it's not about principles or preferences, it has to do with me feeling guilty I looked horrible (in my mind). I forgot to remember the reason I got a few pounds last autumn (medical by the may); I forgot about the stress and the pain that everyone is allowed from time to time; I forgot I really did not have money for gym, and that just working at home doesn’t have the same effect especially when someone gets depressed they can barely get off the bed.
I hated myself because of some guy with a fixation on women, and probably a bad script which needs nudity to take the eyes away from the quality; and even if the script might have been good (maybe I am frustrated), I still shouldn’t have, in the back of my mind, consider the part as long as I felt the guy was not someone I wanted around.
But I thought we needed the money. And I fell in the middle of a war between what I knew I wanted, and what I thought I should do. Between my principles, my dreams and the guilt. The guilt of not being able to be abso-f**king-lutely gorgeous, skinny and all f**king 6 pack abs trained, making the bloody money that would make my husband not work so much until his back would give out and be in need on an MRI; about not making the f**king money to keep up with all the spending going around, and having a bloody nervous breakdown every time something new is about to be bought – which by the way it is a great addition to the house. But in my mind… is another day of chaos which I cannot put in order.
So I end up shoving sweets up my throat, hating myself for being weak and incapable, and maybe not even talented. I think, at a point, I felt like a blob of meat rolling around, amorphous and disgusting. Should I mention I am 54 kg? Yes, 5’1 but healthy. True, for this business should be rocking about 50 kg (do not want to become skinny, I like my physical health; my mental health is another story) but with clothes on I am quite great looking (says me today after eating and drinking some disgusting plants-based shakes and teas).
End of part 2.
Have a lovely spring everyone!
© 2018 Carmen Silva